The following text is taken from the conclusions of the 1/2009 report of the European Environmental Agency. The title of this interesting report is “Waste without borders in the EU” and you can download it from
“Developments in shipments of waste indicate that many of the principles in the EU Waste Framework Directive and EU policies are being achieved.
Almost all waste generated in the EU that requires disposal is disposed of within the EU. This is in accordance with the EU political target to establish a self-sufficient network of disposal installations in the EU. Increasingly, hazardous and problematic waste is shipped for recovery within the EU, which is also in accordance with the political target. Increasing amounts of waste paper, plastics and metals are exported for recycling, driven by the increasing prices of secondary waste materials and supported by EU legislation requirements for increasing recycling rates. This shows waste being used as a resource, which is in line with the EU strategy on waste prevention and recycling.
However, developments in some areas do not fulfill the requirements of the EU Waste Framework Directive nor do they comply with EU regulations on the shipment of waste. EU Member States have not made progress toward individual Member State self-sufficiency in waste disposal. It is currently not possible to document at EU level what specific kind of hazardous and problematic waste is shipped across boundaries. This is due to highly aggregated reporting. Similarly, aggregated reporting means that it is not possible to determine whether shipment of the waste results in better, more environmentally friendly treatment of the waste.
It is difficult to follow some waste streams, in particular e-waste. It would appear that the EU exports a significant quantity of used electrical and electronic products to developing countries that do not have an adequate waste management infrastructure. These are then probably subject to treatment that poses a threat to the environment and human health.
EU Member States collect a huge quantity of data and information on the shipment of waste, but it is still impossible to ascertain whether, at the EU level, these shipments reduce negative effects on the environment….
However ….more than one third of the notified waste is not classified because there is no code that is suitable for the waste. Also, the codes are too general, making it impossible to determine the exact nature of the waste shipped. .. However, all wastes for disposal, as well as hazardous and problematic waste for recovery, must be notified to the relevant national authorities before shipment….”